Christian Church

Medieval illustration of the ecclesia from the Hortus deliciarum of Herrad of Landsberg (12th century)

"Christian Church" is an ecclesiological term generally used by Protestants to refer to the whole group of people belonging to Christianity throughout the history of Christianity. In this understanding, "Christian Church" does not refer to a particular Christian denomination but to the body of all believers. Some Christian traditions, however, believe that the term "Christian Church" or "Church" applies only to a specific historic Christian body or institution (e.g., the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Oriental Orthodox Churches, or the Assyrian Church of the East). The Four Marks of the Church first expressed in the Nicene Creed are that the Church is One (a unified Body of Particular Churches in full communion of doctrines and faith with each other), Holy (a sanctified and deified Body), Catholic (Universal and containing the fullness of Truth in itself), and Apostolic (its hierarchy, doctrines, and faith can be traced back to the Apostles).[1]

Thus, the majority of Christians globally (particularly of the apostolic churches listed above, as well as some Anglo-Catholics) consider the Christian Church as a visible and institutional "societas perfecta" enlivened with supernatural grace, while Protestants generally understand the Church to be an invisible reality not identifiable with any specific earthly institution, denomination, or network of affiliated churches.[citation needed] Others equate the Church with particular groups that share certain essential elements of doctrine and practice, though divided on other points of doctrine and government (such as the branch theory as taught by some Anglicans).

Most English translations of the New Testament generally use the word "church" as a translation of the Ancient Greek: ἐκκλησία, translit. ecclesia, found in the original Greek texts, which generally meant an "assembly".[2] This term appears in two verses of the Gospel of Matthew, 24 verses of the Acts of the Apostles, 58 verses of the Pauline epistles (including the earliest instances of its use in relation to a Christian body), two verses of the Letter to the Hebrews, one verse of the Epistle of James, three verses of the Third Epistle of John, and 19 verses of the Book of Revelation. In total, ἐκκλησία appears in the New Testament text 114 times, although not every instance is a technical reference to the church.[3]

In the New Testament, the term ἐκκλησία is used for local communities as well as in a universal sense to mean all believers.[4] Traditionally, only orthodox believers are considered part of the true church, but convictions of what is orthodox have long varied, as many churches (not only the ones officially using the term "Orthodox" in their names) consider themselves to be orthodox and other Christians to be heterodox.


The Acts 19:32-41, is the New Testament term referring to the Christian Church (either a particular local group or the whole body of the faithful). In the Septuagint, the Greek word "ἐκκλησία" is used to translate the Hebrew "קהל" (qahal). Most Romance and Celtic languages use derivations of this word, either inherited or borrowed from the Latin form ecclesia.

The English language word "church" is from the Old English word cirice, derived from West Germanic *kirika, which in turn comes from the Greek κυριακή kuriakē, meaning "of the Lord" (possessive form of κύριος kurios "ruler" or "lord"). Kuriakē in the sense of "church" is most likely a shortening of κυριακὴ οἰκία kuriakē oikia ("house of the Lord") or ἐκκλησία κυριακή ekklēsia kuriakē ("congregation of the Lord").[5] Christian churches were sometimes called κυριακόν kuriakon (adjective meaning "of the Lord") in Greek starting in the 4th century, but ekklēsia and βασιλική basilikē were more common.[6]

The word is one of many direct Greek-to-Germanic loans of Christian terminology, via the Goths. The Slavic terms for "church" (Old Church Slavonic црькꙑ [crĭky], Russian церковь [cerkov’], Slovenian cerkev) are via the Old High German cognate chirihha.[citation needed]

Other Languages
Ænglisc: Cirice
asturianu: Ilesia
Bân-lâm-gú: Kàu-hōe
भोजपुरी: चर्च (संस्था)
Чӑвашла: Чиркӳ
čeština: Církev
dansk: Kirken
Ελληνικά: Εκκλησία
emiliàn e rumagnòl: Ceṡa
Esperanto: Eklezio
فارسی: کلیسا
Gàidhlig: Eaglais
客家語/Hak-kâ-ngî: Kî-tuk Kau-fi
한국어: 교회
հայերեն: Եկեղեցի
हिन्दी: कलीसिया
Ido: Kirko
Bahasa Indonesia: Gereja
interlingua: Ecclesia
Ирон: Еклези
isiZulu: Isonto
íslenska: Kirkja
Basa Jawa: Gréja
Kiswahili: Kanisa
кырык мары: Костёл
Latina: Ecclesia
magyar: Egyház
مازِرونی: کلیسا
Baso Minangkabau: Gereja
Mirandés: Eigreija
Nederlands: Kerk (instituut)
日本語: 教会
norsk nynorsk: Kyrkja
Piemontèis: Cesa
Plattdüütsch: Kark (Organisation)
português: Igreja
sardu: Creja
sicilianu: Crèsia
Simple English: Christian Church
slovenščina: Cerkev (organizacija)
کوردی: کڵێسا
српски / srpski: Хришћанска црква
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Hrišćanska crkva
suomi: Kirkko
svenska: Kyrkan
Tagalog: Simbahan
татарча/tatarça: Xristian Çirkäwe
اردو: کلیسیا
Tiếng Việt: Giáo hội Kitô giáo
粵語: 教會
中文: 教会